Please, no trumpets in Cusco.
Maybe you’ve heard of this place?
We hiked in along the railroad tracks. By the time we reached Aguas Calientes, six miles and a thunderstorm later, we were soaking wet. Perhaps the Inca God of Drenched Smelly Backpackers With Very Few Changes of Clothes was purifying our dirty rags before we entered Machu Picchu. A cleansing ritual, of sorts. Lovely.
Whatever the case, we made it. “Words cannot describe, pictures do it not justice.” Normally, I take that as a cop out. Really you’re just a worthless writer with nothing to say. Not so here. Not so.
Remember all that crap I said about “the nearly even distribution of uphill battles and the subsequent downhill payoff“ of mountain biking?
Yeah, well, a few days later I found myself at a lofty 14,000 and some change feet, adjusting the seat and suspension of a bike I’ll most likely never be able to afford. It was raining. No, in fact it was raining/snowing, Andes style.
My legs were fresh, because I got a ride to the top. I skipped all the nonsense of being impressed with myself for climbing in the ultimate pursuit of that “subsequent downhill payoff.” I totally cheated.
And the downhill portion was definitely not a flash. Two, three hours later we rolled into a small village looking like this.
It was a little muddy towards the end. The locals got a kick out of it at our expense.
Cusco’s impossibly narrow streets and sidewalks are worn smooth from hundreds of years of traffic: foot, hoof, automobile. Spanish meets Inca around every corner, a constant reminder of one nation’s merciless pursuit to destroy all that was good of a once great empire.
This ornate door belongs to La Catedral, located on the northeastern side of Plaza De Armas.
We happened upon this lively market. Here locals buy fabrics, fruits, odd animal parts, vegetables, and much more. The smells are intoxicating. The selection, unbeatable.
You might know this as the “bulk bin” back in the States. Please, no nibbling.
My first glass of chicha (or spit beer, as my wife calls it) was surprisingly tasty.
The people of Cusco love a parade. At this very moment, I am calculating the very real possibility of the late JC’s hand splitting my skull, as you’ll notice the men carrying him are having quite the difficult time.
Just when you’re getting used to the collective death defying driving of an entire nation, having to toss your toilet paper in a waste basket, brushing your teeth with bottled water, and icy cold showers with no pressure, you’re back in the comfortable, if not comparatively sterile, confines of the United States.
There will be many comments and observations on Peru in the following days. And OK, I suppose one will never become accustomed to cold showers. That, I’m afraid, is just plain ridiculous.
My wife threw together this map of our upcoming itinerary.
People typically ask one of two questions about this trip. What’s in Peru? Or, are you going to Machu Picchu?
To answear those questions: What’s not in Peru? And yes, we’re going to Machu Picchu.
With that said, I’d like to let my adoring fanbase know that I’ll be back shortly. The going may be rough for you the next few days. Your daily dose of lively Murtaughtainment will be drastically reduced until Sept. 26, at which time all shenanigans will proceed.
You may even find that you now have time to spend with your family, finish that puzzle, draw a pretty picture, or plan a trip to Peru. Clearly a win-win for all.
These may be robot elk placed by the National Park Service to get people out of their cars and into nature. Whatever the case, they sure do look cool. Rocky Mountain National Park.
“You’ll be fine. Everything will be OK.”
Most guys say that to their wives at some point, and 45% of the time, they mean it. I really wanted to believe she would be fine. Everything will be OK. Only this time, I was in the 55% category.
At first, her incessant mentions of fatal reactions to yellow fever vaccines was more nuisance than concern for me.
“Honey, you’ll be fine.”
But then we wake up in the morning, the day after we both received the vaccine, and her thumb is freakishly swollen. She also has a rash on her hand. It appears to be working it’s way up her arm, the same arm where she received the shot.
We head to urgent care, which was cool with me since I just picked up “Guns, Germs, and Steel.” The doctor asks about the vaccine, takes a quick look at her thumb and rash combo, says it’s unrelated to yellow fever, and decides to do something ridiculous like jam an IV in there. We politely pass, opting for the antibiotics instead.
Was I relieved? Hell yes. I may never reveal that I, the very definition of calm and collect, was freaked out. Everything was not OK!
We’ve made it over the “however many days later and you probably won’t die from a yellow fever vaccine” hump. Peru in a week. Can’t wait.
A picture from our campsite of a tree that is not a Joshua tree in Joshua Tree National Park. Crazy.